ANGRY BIRDS AT THE FEEDER – Marilyn Armstrong

The one bird we are never short of around here are woodpeckers. We have at least five kinds. Only three of them come to the feeders: the little Downy Woodpecker, his big brother, the Hairy Woodpecker, and the Red-Bellied Woodpecker. The Red-Belly is the biggest of the bunch, but by physical size, the Blue Jay is a bigger bird.

I never realized what large birds Blue Jays are until I saw how big they are compared to the rest of our birds. Not, of course, counting the really big woodpecker who I see in the distance once in a while and the hawks and eagles.

Blue Jay still on the railing

Anyway, when the Blue Jay drops by for a meal, the other birds say “Yes sir, Mr. Jay,” and flutter off. Today, while big Mr. Jay was enjoying a little dinner, the Red-Belly decided to come by for a snack too. The Blue Jay is bigger, but other birds just don’t mess with the woodpeckers. Those birds have long beaks and hard heads and they are always in a grumpy mood. I think that’s from pounding their heads into oak trees all day long.

This is a series of pictures I got from the rather amusing event.

Blue is already there when the Red-Bellied Woodpecker arrives.

“Can we talk about this?” asks Mr. Jay.

“I don’t think so. How about you leave?” says Woody.

“This is MY feeder,” says Woody. “Take a flyer.”

“Okay, then. I’ll be flying a bit. See you around the woods,” says Jay.

The Red-Belly hung around for a while, it being dinner time. And when he was done, the Blue Jay came back and had his dinner too.  All was well but for some flurrying of feathers. As go the birds, so goes the world.

RED BELLIED WOODPECKER AND A FUCHSIA – Marilyn Armstrong

AS THE END OF MAY APPROACHES … 

I got some nice pictures of our favorite woodpecker enjoying dinner at the feeder. The birds seem to like being near the big plant. I think it makes them feel safe. It is much harder to shoot with the big plant in the way, so I’m going to have some practicing to do to get quality photographs.

Yesterday was the first time I shot using my iPhone. The pictures are admirably sharp and clear and it’s a definitely “better than nothing” camera that doesn’t require hauling a heavy camera and lenses.

For me, it isn’t a camera. It’s had to focus, it only shoots at 72 ppi and it’s really hard to keep your fingers out of the photo. Probably great for snapshooters, but the process of having to mail the shots to my PC then transferring them is a serious pain in the butt.

It’s good to have it and it has many other uses, but it isn’t going to be my favorite photographic device!

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER ON A BRIGHT, SPRING DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

We put different food in the feeder today. Well, actually, I put the food in. Owen lowered the feeders so I can reach them myself and not wait for him to get home. There were a lot of baby birds out there today. Tiny little Goldfinches, miniature Nuthatches, really small Chickadees, and occasionally a baby so young, he doesn’t even have all his feathers.

A very redhead

A rare head-on face-forward shot.

I got a really good lens-lock on a Red-bellied Woodpecker and I since these are one of the birds that usually disappear when I have a camera ready, I took as many pictures as I could. Also, I took a lot of Nuthatch pictures, but that will have to wait for another day.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER AND THE BLUE JAY – Marilyn Armstrong

If there are two more aggressive garden birds in this part of the world, I have no idea what the might be. All garden birds are a little aggressive to other birds. Some birds, though, when they hit the feeder the other birds decide there’s a branch they’d like to visit elsewhere.

Matched pair?

All woodpeckers are aggressive — not based on their size. They are aware that they have very thick skulls to go with their deadly beak, so even bigger birds avoid them. Some of the smaller ones are more aggressive than the bigger ones.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay again

Blue Jays are aggressive. They attack the nests of other birds and eat or destroy their eggs. And if you get near a nest, don’t be surprised to have a phalanx of  Blue Jays attacking you. They don’t mess around.

One Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Eating well!

So it figures when both landed on the same feeder, it was eyeball-to-eyeball and neither backed down. They flew off together.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS AND A BIG BLUE JAY – Marilyn Armstrong

It was sunny today. Yay for the sun and yay for having a day bright enough to take a few pictures. Just as I picked up the camera, a Red-bellied Woodpecker and a Blue Jay met and ultimately shared the feeder. These are two highly aggressive birds, though the blue jay is actually a bit bigger of the two, the woodpecker has a far more potent beak.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

And here they are. Most of the Blue Jay pictures were taken with no processing. The combination of both birds got a bit more sun, which is a problem shooting out this window. Until the afternoon, there’s a lot of solar glare, but you can clearly see the birds well. You need a slower lens and maybe a filter.

Blue Jay

There’s a big storm tomorrow night and Monday morning so grab the pictures now!

Blue and Red … how topical.

Woodpecker and Blue Jay

BIRDS AT THE TOP OF THE TREE – Marilyn Armstrong

Birds at the top of the tree

You would think with all these birds I’d take more pictures of birds in trees, but it’s hard when there are leaves. The only time in summer I see them is when they are gorging on the seeds.

So these non-feeder pictures are different. Usually, I managed to follow a bird from the feeder to where he or she landed in the branches. Winter is easier, but the birds are prettier in the summertime.

Okay, not a tree, but definitely a perch!

A winter Cardinal in a tree

Red-Bellied Woodpecker high in a tree

Dove in a tree

Cardinal in a tree

BIRDS AND SQUIRRELS – Marilyn Armstrong

The birds are eating like there’s no tomorrow. I actually spotted a fat woodpecker, one of the big Red-bellied Woodpeckers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fat woodpecker. But this one was very round … and very big, too.

Today, while it isn’t sunny, it is warm. 70 degrees and going up. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but it is nice to not be shivering, to be able to open the windows and let some air inside!

The cleanup crew

More cleanup

I used my time to clean. I got tired of waiting for help, so I just took a deep breath and did as much as I could. There is so much more to be done, but this helped. Duke is shedding, so everything is covered in white Duke-hair.

The Brown-headed Cowbirds are back

I don’t see many non-flying squirrels much these days. They show up very early in the morning, around sunrise, but this little guy has been dropping by regularly. I think he is young because he is quite small. Awfully cute, too!

HAIRY WOODPECKER: THE ORIGINAL ANGRY BIRD – Marilyn Armstrong

They always look pissed off. Apparently, all the other birds think they really are pissed off because the moment one of them settles on a feeder, all the other birds fly away.

The ones with the red stripe on his head are boys. The ones with no red are girls. Boys and girls are in a permanently bad mood.

THE BIRDS THEY ARE A’CHANGING – Marilyn Armstrong

I used to know “spring” by the flowers. Up come the crocus and then the daffodils. Suddenly there are dozens of Solomon’s Seal and a few lilacs get enough sunlight to flower. It must be spring!

Two bluebirds

The trees get a covering of pink buds, especially the maples. The oak trees are slower. We have a couple of struggling azaleas that never get enough sun to do more than casually bloom a little bit.

Still, all this greenery says “spring” to me.

Not this year. This time around, it’s the color of the feathers of the birds. This is the time of year when birds go into their breeding seasons. Birds don’t just breed once per season.

Getting more yellow every day

Square Goldfinches

And two more

Many of them, especially the little guys like Chickadees and all the Finches will breed many times between now and November. They are not only the most daring flyers, but they have sex in the air. Whoopee! Now that’s the way to go!

A very red Finch

Chickadee and one of the red finches

I want to mention that Garry and I saw a really huge Red-Bellied Woodpecker on a feeder — briefly — this morning. He was easily twice the size of the usual Red-Bellies we see around here. Good food? Trees with excellent bugs? Both?

Eating well! And what a beak!

 

BIRDS OF A FEATHER SOMETIMES FLOCK TOGETHER – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s February Expressions #11


As a very birdie lady, I have this to say about that.

Cardinal (boy)

Lady Cardinal

Some birds — like finches — flock together. The Goldfinches show up in bunches, often more than a dozen at a time and they don’t mind taking in the House and Purple Finches who also live in the woods with them. They apparently don’t care whether you are red, raspberry, or bright yellow.

Goldfinches – just beginning to change to their breeding feathers.

Goldfinch and flying Titmouse

On the other hand, while the Cardinal often shows up with his mate, he will not tolerate the presence of another male Cardinal in his “patch” of woods. If they meet, they go at it like World War 1 aces, whirling and attacking each other in the air. It’s quite a thing to see.

Two bluebirds

Two more Goldfinches

The Hairy Woodpecker doesn’t like anything or anyone but will tolerate his mate if she doesn’t get in his way. The Red-Bellied Woodpecker will tolerate other birds nearby … as long as they don’t poach on his piece of feeder. The Tufted Titmouses show up in groups, but not flocks and all the other birds are perfectly okay with them. Ditto the Nuthatches. Bluebirds only show up in groups (protection?).

In the watery world of fowl, Canada Geese and Swans hate each other. Meanwhile, Herons will eat the eggs of any other fowl if they can find the nests.

But all of these fighting birds are happy to hang around with ducks. No other bird has a problem with ducks and when the ducks hang out, they don’t care what kind of duck you are. Whatever feathers you wear are fine with all the ducks.

ANGRY BIRDS, WINTRY LIGHT – Marilyn Armstrong

Angry birds, wintry light

Hairy Woodpeckers are the larger of two similar-looking woodpeckers. They aren’t actually related, but somehow, the Downy has copied the feathering and coloration of the Hairy Woodpecker, probably because the Hairy has a notoriously bad temper. The Downy has an equally bad temper, but he’s much smaller. By copying the bigger bird, on a quick look, they look the same.

It’s hard to see the difference unless they are near enough to one another to see the size difference which, despite them often sharing the same piece of forest, they rarely do.

Angry bird 1

Angry bird 2

Angry bird 3

Angry bird 4

Angry bird 5

Angry bird 6

Today I got lucky and for a few seconds (I didn’t get a picture, but I almost got a picture)  they shared the opposite sides of the big feeder. Suddenly, it was easy to tell the difference. The Hairy is obviously bigger. Bigger body, longer beak. They only shared space for a few seconds, then the Downy decided it was time to move on. The Hairy hung around long enough for me to get some pictures and for once, I was sure I knew which bird I was photographing.

Is it me or does this look like one of the original angry birds? Hairy Woodpeckers have a notoriously bad temper. They are permanently in a bad mood. I think it’s because they spend their entire lives banging their head against hardwood trees.

ALL ABOUT A DOWNY WOODPECKER AND HER NUTHATCH LUNCHMATE – Marilyn Armstrong

I had a really big set of photos from last week. I’d processed maybe 10 of them, then I took some more and worked on them. But I knew there were a bunch of pictures in there with which I’d not done anything. I’d shot these pictures quickly and taken a long sequence of a lovely lady Downy Woodpecker sharing the feeder alone or with a Nuthatch.

Last night, I put a bunch of them together. This is a lady Downy because she doesn’t have a red patch on her head.

Downy and Nuthatch

Just hanging out

Seedeaters!

Very plump or full of eggs?

It’s good to keep them al so well-fed.

BIRDS DU JOUR AGAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

I have good days and bad ones for bird photography. Some days, the birds decide I’m okay, so I get pictures. Other days, they decide my camera is a gun and I’m going to shoot them. The last couple of days have been pretty good. Also, I improved the food. The same food I used to feed them. There is no high-quality cheap birdseed. Sometimes you get lucky (there’s a sale somewhere), but usually, it costs a lot more than seems reasonable.

Nuthatch and Frog

This picture of the Nuthatch and the Frog was a bit dark, but not out of focus. I thought it would look good in monochrome. Then I added a bit of graphic treatment to brighten it up. I really like the way it came out!

Vertical Goldfinch

Goldfinch in the air and another on the feeder

Nuthatch and Downy Woodpecker sharing a bit of lunch

Freefall for a Goldfinch. These little birds like to play and do some exciting, fun flying

Fluttering Goldfinches and a Rose-breasted Titmouse

Of all of the birds, the most fun to watch are the little birds: the Chickadees and various finches. They don’t take off from the feeder. They fall off, only opening their wings just before they hit the ground. They also fall out of the trees and are inches from crashing when they finally open their wings. Owen says they used to roll off his barn roof and fall until right before they hit the ground.

Nuthatch and Downy Woodpecker

It can’t be accidental, either. They obviously have fun flying, so when they aren’t raiding a feeder, they like freefalling from trees and railings. Do they have to dare each other? Are there prizes for those who get closest to the ground?

Photobombing woodpecker?

The previous picture was funny. There were two Goldfinches on the finch feeder, but this nosy Downy Woodpecker wanted to see if maybe there was something delicious for her to eat. Mind you the holes in this feeder are too small for a bird of her size. I’m pretty sure it’s a girl because she has no red patch on her head and she also looks like she’s carrying around a few eggs.

Portrait of a hungry Goldfinch

BIRDS CAN BE SQUARE TOO #10 – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

BACKYARD BIRDIES IN WILD ABSTRACTION (AND THE NUMBER ISN’T IN ORDER, EITHER)

It was a sunny afternoon and my camera was ready. I was ready. Were the birds ready? That is always the question. As for light, see that hint of golden sun on the trees and the birds? That is the reflection of the late afternoon winter sun. Photography is all about light.

I take pictures every day if there are active birds on the feeders. It’s a timing issue and I have to hope it isn’t the exact same group of birds that seem to actually live on the feeders. When I see enough interesting birds or types of birds, I try sneaking up on them and hope they won’t hide or fly away. I think they are laughing at me as they fly into the woods.

Flying: the bird in front is a Tufted Titmouse and the bird in the back is a woodpecker, either a downy or a hairy.

Last week, I dumped the flat feeder and the very damaged wire feeder. I got a smaller feeder with smooth sides and a rim for birds to hold onto. It is designed for smaller birds. I already owned a finch feeder, but I’d never bought food for it. I had Owen put up a third hook and invested in a small bag of finch food.

A Goldfinch on the finch feeder

It took about 72 hours for the birds to discover the new feeders. For a few days, there were almost no birds. On Sunday, I woke up and looked at the feeders and they were empty. I don’t mean that they needed filling. They were 100% empty, down to the last seed.

Woodpecker and Titmouse

I filled everything up and waited. The Goldfinches are back and so are the woodpeckers. The Cardinals have come home, though they refuse to sit still while I take their picture. I think they should show some appreciation, but they aren’t here as my friends. They just want to eat. I still think they could at least let me take pictures. Show me a little bit of gratitude.

Hairy Woodpecker

They hide on the opposite side of the feeders where I can’t see them. I have to wait for them to decide to ignore me and some days, they manage to elude me until I get tired and give up.

A beautiful Tufted Titmouse … and a surprisingly big oneToday I decided to exhume the SD card from the OMD and see what I had collected. I decided to play around with this batch. Others are less abstract. I admit it. Sometimes, I just want to play with pictures.